Friday, September 19, 2014

Enemies of the People 2009

The Pol Pot era (1975-9) in Cambodia is recreated through a series of interviews of the killers at different levels including the senior most living person of the bloody regime, the No 2 in the regime. The interviews are conducted by a person whose entire immediate family was killed. Following the format and tradition of Lanzmann, this movie has the stamp of authenticity and immediacy.Such is the might of organisations that people can be made to perform the most hideous actions, as long as the command comes from above.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Act of Killing 2013

In a less publicized genocide over two million communists were exterminated in Indonesia in 1965. The perpetrators remain in power, and are secure in their impunity. In this documentary, some of those who actually did the killings, at times sickeningly gruesome, tell the details in front of the movie camera in the form of a crude re-enaction. The film has a carnival atmosphere, with much joking, relish and pride and no contrition to speak of. At two and a half hours, I managed to finish it by skipping large chunks in the second half. The film is educative as an exploration of some regions of the human make up. To quote Roger Ebert, this is about "unremarkable men with dimly lit souls".

Roger Ebert's Review

Friday, September 5, 2014

Day of Wrath 1943 Dreyer

A drama of human frailty set in Holland in the era when witch trials and burning at the stake was common. It is a fevered society in which individuals are hunted down for no causeto be subjected to torture and death. Interwoven is the story of a priests second wife and her affair with a stepson older than herself which ends in predictable disaster. Dreyer's style of painterly black and white, ponderous speech with an aura of panic and fear, join to create a hard to forget film.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Missing Picture 2013 Rithy Panh

The film maker escaped in his teens from Pol Pot Cambodia, having lost his parents and siblings to hunger and atrocities. As a witness and victim of the genocide, he records his experience in this eery and powerful movie. He uses the unusual device of clay figurines and dioramas, with a French commentary reminiscent of  Resnais, to reconstruct the memories. The combination of commentary, footage, figures and diorama is effective in conveying the events and feelings. The magic achieved by the film is the life breathing through the mute clay models, far more expressive than real people. They become a medium to portray yet another holocaust, witnessed by a boy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Agony and the Ecstasy 1961

This fine biopic drama is about the stormy relationship of Michelangelo and his patron, Pope Julius II. It focuses on the four year period when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the wars which constitute the background. The sparkling dialog as well as Rex Harrison's effortless portrayal of a warlike pope hold ones interest over the two and half hours of running time.